Narrow House

Brooklyn, NY, US
Only If
Iwan Baan, Naho Kubota

This self-initiated project for a ground-up, single-family house is located on an atypical New York City lot measuring little over 4 metres wide by 30 metres deep. Despite being less than 5 metres in width, the property in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn met other criteria which enabled development that would otherwise be prohibited under New York City zoning. The Narrow House, designed by Only If, represents a specific architectural proposition, but is also a prototype for infill and a polemic on the potential for typological invention in constrained residual urban spaces.

The main challenge in the design of the Narrow House was not form or outward appearance, but rather daylight and circulation. The facade, facing the street and rear yard, consists of glass curtain wall, which maximises daylight to the inside and is detailed flushed to the adjacent stucco. Without interior shear walls, the building is braced at the front and rear facade for lateral stability. Three diagonal steel braces are also exposed behind the front facade.

A split-level organisation creates distinct interior spaces without the use of conventional elements such as partitions or corridors. The vertical void inside the central, perforated steel staircase becomes a lightwell, introducing daylight towards the middle of the plan.

In the shop